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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

That vacuum is HOW MUCH???!!!

It's time for a new vacuum. My nice little canister vacuum has seen better days and it doesn't seem like it's picking up as well as it should. Which makes me wonder.....what is it leaving behind? I've been miserable lately with allergies (yes, the neighbors down the street CAN actually hear me sneezing....) so I want anything that can be sucked up by the vacuum to actually be sucked up! I want all of the dirt, pollen, etc off my floors and out of my house!

I found a website that is sponsored by the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. They have "Certified asthma and allergy friendly" products. So, in my search for a new vacuum, I thought I would see what the experts recommend. Click here to see what I found.

You may notice something when you pull up the web page-almost all of the vacuums are Dyson's. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that I don't have $500 in my budget for a vacuum! Sheesh. I have kids that like to eat, you know. They're kind of picky that way!

Here's  quote from the website that shows what they test for when they are looking at vacuums:

"The Vacuum Cleaner Certification Standard testing includes:
  • Evaluation of capability to remove allergen-containing test dust from carpets
  • Evaluation of airborne allergen levels during vacuuming
  • Evaluation of the integrity of the air filtration system
  • Assessment of the performance of the vacuum cleaner immediately prior to activation of bag replacement / receptacle emptying signal and filter change signal
  • Assessment of exposure to allergens during bag change or receptacle emptying"

Since we have wood floors, the canister vacuum works best for us. Has anyone else found a good canister vacuum that's well under the $500 price range? I did find a Kenmore canister, but it was almost $400. If anyone has found a good quality canister vacuum, let me know!

Until then, all the people coming to my house better take their shoes off at the front door and put them in the basket. This means you family! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bad air quality from storms

Can you see the mountains? I can-barely. Usually I have a crystal clear view. This is what we were all breathing yesterday. And I was really having a tough time-so was my neighbor who also has asthma. Boy, can she wheeze!

My chest was tight, and I was coughing for a while. Too bad I have to actually go outdoors to get from one place to another. I'm fine in my house, but if I have to go outside to get in the car, or walk from the car into the kid's school, it's just enough to make my lungs hurt during these wind storms.

It seems like the weather is always worse before it gets better. This photo was taken while the wind was blowing in before the storm.Today it's raining. It's Memorial day weekend, and the pool just opened today. But with the rain and unusual temperatures-only about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, we are staying home.  At least the air seems to be a little easier to breathe.

If changes in the weather bother you, stay indoors if you can. And keep the windows and doors closed. Today I am staying inside and cleaning out my sun room. Great holiday activity, huh? At least I'm keeping busy while I'm stuck in the house. But Monday should be just perfect for a BBQ. Hhmm, chicken or steak?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ragweed makes my mouth itch when I eat watermelon?


I was just reading an article in Allergy and Asthma Today magazine. (Published by Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics) The article was called, "Oral Allergy Syndrome" from their "Ask an Allergist" section. 

Dr. Richard Weber talks about how some vegetable and fruit proteins are "cousins" to certain pollens. If you are allergic to a plant or tree, you can be allergic to the fruit too. That's why if you are allergic to ragweed, your mouth can itch if you eat watermelon or cantaloupe. If you are allergic to birch trees, your mouth can tingle while you eat apples. Weird, huh?

Dr. Weber says that when you eat the fruit, the enzymes in your mouth quickly break down the proteins in the fruit. That way, it doesn't get into your bloodstream and travel throughout the body, which can cause anaphylaxis. That's usually what happens with seafood or peanut allergies.

If you eat a fruit, your lips may tingle, or the roof of your mouth might itch. I've had that happen before with watermelon. Who knew it was because I'm actually allergic to ragweed?

Has anyone else ever had this happen, or am I the only weird one?


Monday, May 21, 2012

How can you have kitties if you are allergic to them?

How can you have kitties if you are allergic? Steal the neighbor's kitties of course! Well, we didn't actually steal them. I made the mistake of giving them a little bowl of milk. The kitties were on our porch and they wouldn't quit meowing (at 11:00 at night) and I wasn't about to let them in our house.

So, I gave them milk. It worked, they stopped meowing! But now they expect a bowl of milk every time we come out our door. In fact, they think we are their family now. After their morning bowl of milk, they would lay on the welcome mat in front of our door. I felt sorry for them because the welcome mat didn't look very soft. So I found an old basket and put that on our front porch. Then I had to add a blanket so it's nice and soft......and before you know it, the kitties have moved in!

This is them waking up in the morning and yawning. It's been a lot of fun for our school aged daughter. Especially since we don't have pets thanks-to allergies and asthma.

The only problem is that Grey Tabby is a little friendly. He loves to jump up on my lap if I sit on the front porch (or pull weeds out of my flower bed, or try to eat dinner on my patio.)

Now what do I do? I love cats, but I'm allergic to them. If I can't resist those big green eyes and purring little body, I end up petting Grey Tabby. He also likes to be held like a baby-what a ham!
I can hold him for a few minutes, but then I have to go inside, change my clothes and take a shower. I tried just washing my hands and arms and then changing my clothes, but that didn't help. I would start sneezing from allergies, and then start coughing from an asthma attack.

 All three of my kids also have allergies and asthma. They take Zyrtec all year long because they are allergic to so many things. They also all have immunotherapy (allergy shots.) To learn more about allergy shots, click here.

I'll talk to Asthma Doc and see if he wants me to start taking Zyrtec. Hopefully that works, because I don't think our adopted kitties are going anywhere. And it's a lot of fun to see them running around the yard, playing with each other, trying to jump up in the air and catch the bees. Some nights it's more entertaining to sit outside and watch them than to watch TV!

Let me know if any of you have had any experiences being around animals you are allergic to, and what you have tried. As my daughter would say, "stupid allergies!"


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

World Asthma Awareness Month

(Global Initiative for Asthma)

Did you know May 1st was World Asthma Awareness Day? Some places are promoting asthma awareness month. To find out about the Global Initiative for Asthma, click here.

Here are a few little statistics for you from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:
Every day in America:

  • 44,000 people will have an asthma attack (that was me last night)
  • 36,000 kids will miss school due to asthma (my #2 son is one of those today....)
  • 27,000 adults miss work due to asthma (either I'm sick or I have to stay home because the kids are)
  • 4,700 people visit the emergency room due to asthma (I've done that too many times to count)
  • 1,200 people will be admitted to the hospital for asthma (done that 12 times with the kids)
  • 9 people die every day from asthma (my goal is to NEVER experience this)
Here's a few other tidbits for you:
  • Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children
  • Asthma is the #1 cause of missed school days (13 million days missed nationwide)
  • 25 million people have asthma in the U.S.
If you are one of those who has asthma or you have a child with asthma, you are in good company! Look at how many other people have asthma.

Hopefully this blog will help you learn from my many experiences of dealing with asthma with my kids over the last 12 years.

Have fun reading it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Flower beds, pollen and asthma

Ah, spring is in the air, and so are the flowers and weeds! My flower bed needed a lot of attention, so I spent one night trying to dig out all of the grass that was creeping in, along with other pesky weeds.

And was that a lot of work! I have an assortment of flowers that sometimes grow well. But the weeds always seem to grow well! Hhmm. It seems like all I do is pull weeds..... it's a never ending cycle!

But, lucky me, allergies and asthma strike again. I was having a little zen time working in the garden, but the longer I worked, the more I sneezed and my nose stuffed up.

Then the neighbor's kitties came over to investigate. Not at all shy, they jumped up on my lap-as I'm trying to bend over and pull weeds. Help yourself kitties. I take it you would you like me to be pet you while you're on my lap?! Trying to drop a hint, are we?!

So, there I was with two of the things I'm allergic to at the same time, my flower bed and the kitties. I am bound and determined to have a decent looking yard this summer, so I kept pulling weeds. And the kitties kept jumping right back up on my lap every time I would straighten up after pulling weeds. (Just like when your kids are little and they knock things off their high chair to see how many times you will bend over and pick it up.) Fun games!

I finally gave up and headed in the house as the kitties tried to squeeze in my front door. They are quick! But we don't allow the neighbor kitties in our house!

I washed my hands and arms and changed my clothes, and went on to other projects that night. But, I forgot to shower to wash away the pollen and cat dander, and I woke up during the night with a tight chest and a hard asthma cough. So, it was time for my inhaler! I took a shower, but by then it was too late, I was already in the middle of an asthma attack. And what I have found after I use my inhaler is that even though I may stop coughing hard, it takes a while to feel better. I was so tired and worn out at work, my chest hurt, I was still coughing sporadically and I had phlegm in my lungs for the rest of the day. It's amazing how terrible an asthma attack can make you can feel.

I need to practice what I preach. When people ask me for advice about allergies and asthma, I always tell them to shower before they go to bed at night. Asthma Doc had told me years ago to have the kids shower every night before bed, to minimize allergies and asthma attacks. It helps to wash the pollen out of your hair and off your skin. If you go to bed without showering, you roll around in pollen all night long on your pillow and wake up sneezing and wheezing. Showering before bed seems to make a big difference in their symptoms. But did I remember to do it for myself?

I'm going to keep trying to get rid of the weeds in my flower bed, but next time I'll remember to shower before bed. For all of you with allergies and asthma, try it and let me know what you think! Until then, look out weeds, here I come! Muhahaha.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Help paying for prescriptions

Do you ever cringe when you go to the pharmacy to pick up your asthma prescriptions?

The cost can add up fast. Last week, I spent over $200 getting a new Proventil inhaler, a refill of Singulair, Symbicort and a couple of other prescriptions. And Hubby is muttering under his breath, "so THAT'S where all of our money is going...."

That's in addition to a $150 monthly copay for Xolair  injections. And of course the $35 copay for the office visit that's required before he's allowed to get his injection.

The Utah Department of Health's Asthma Program has a great resource on their website, called Prescription Assistance Program for Patients with Asthma.   It sounds confusing, but it's just a list of every asthma medication that's available. It lists:
  • Prescription drug
  • Prescription assistance program
  • Contact information and website
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Cost

If you are one of the many that struggles to pay for your asthma medication (or your child's) then check out this list. In my family, I have asthma, as well as all three of my children. So having four of us on asthma and allergy medicine really adds up. In fact, I would really rather be putting that money towards a trip to Hawaii, but it's also nice to be able to breathe. So I guess I'll keep paying for all of the prescriptions.......

Check out the website and let me know what you think! It should help you save a little money!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Olympic athletes with asthma

(American Lung Association)

I just read an article from the American Lung Association about Olympic athlete Peter Vanderkaay. He's a swimmer who has had asthma since he was 10. He has exercise induced asthma, and he has two brothers who also have asthma.

He's not alone, he knows of many Olympic Gold Medalists who have asthma. And the athletes can still train and compete. Of course he works closely with his pulmonologist (lung doctor) to make sure his asthma is under control.

Which make me think that if he can train 4 to 7 hours a day, what's holding me back from exercising? I'm obviously not ever going to be in the Olympics (or compete in any sport for that matter.....) but it's still important for me to exercise. Some people think you can't exercise if you have asthma.

Talk to your doctor to make sure you are managing your asthma symptoms. There are many things that can affect asthma, but knowing what bothers you and how to avoid it are important. There's a great section on the Utah Department of Health's Asthma Program website about  'triggers' or causes of asthma attacks. To read more, click here. 

To read more about Peter, click here.  

Talk to your doctor and make sure your asthma is under control so you can stay active and enjoy life!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Have you ever wondered what the best treatment is for allergies? Everyone seems to have different things that bother them, so how do you know what to take?

  • Over the counter medication? Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec
  • Nasal antihistamine spray? Patanase, Asteline
  • Nasal corticosteroid spray? Nasacort, Flonase
  • Nasal wash? Neti pot
  • Prescription medication? Singulair (treats asthma and allergies)
  • Allergy shots?

 It's enough to make your head spin! I guess you could try different medications and see what helps you feel better.

But the best thing is to start with an allergist. He or she can test you and tell you exactly what you are allergic to. Rather than you trying to guess. You can help by keeping track of when your symptoms seem to get worse-where you outside or inside? Petting the neighbor's cat or dog? Hiking in the mountains? Picking out plants at the nursery? At your kid's soccer game?

To learn more about allergy testing from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology click here.

This can be a tough time of year, and people really underestimate how miserable you can feel with allergies. It's like a cold that can last for months, and months. Sometimes it can turn into a sinus infection too, and that can cause horrible headaches.

It can be surprising when you finally get treated and start to feel better. You don't realize how miserable you've really been this whole time. Kind of like when I first got glasses and thought, "Wow! So this is how things are supposed to look?!" I didn't know what I was missing. It's the same thing with allergies. You forget what it feels like to be normal and not have symptoms!

Talk to your doctor and see what he wants you to try. Until then, pass the tissues!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hhm, summer camp time-gulp!!!

I'm a bit nervous because my daughter went on an overnight camp out with her school. They normally go during the summer for a week long camp out. I don't send my kids because being that far away from medical help (and more importantly-people that understand asthma) makes me nervous! All three of my kids are allergic to anything that's alive....literally. Trees, flowers, bushes, cats, dogs, horses, etc, etc. So being in the outdoors can be a challenge. Depending on what the pollen levels are and what is blooming that day can make them miserable or cause an asthma attack.

This year the school took the kids on an overnight camp out. I remember the camp well, I attended it when I was a kid. Now it's my daughter's turn. And I remember it being a VERY long bus ride. And it was also in the middle of nowhere. Which means no medical help.

The problem with asthma, is that unlike most diseases, asthma is affected by the environment. So a dusty camping area, lots of greenery and animals can all cause asthma attacks. And regular camps don't usually have people that specialize in asthma. Just leaders that are trained in 1st Aid.

American Lung Association of Utah has an option for parents who worry about sending their kids to a regular camp. Camp Wyatt is specially staffed 24 hours a day by asthma doctors, respiratory therapists, nurses and pharmacists. They make sure the kids are taking their medication correctly and make sure the campers check their peak flow twice a day. Asthma is a disease that uses very different medication, equipment, and terminology. (You may remember what it was like when you were learning about asthma, it's a whole new confusing world!) It's vital to have someone who specializes in asthma when kids are having problems breathing.  To watch a video of what Camp Wyatt is like, click here. 

At Camp Wyatt, kids with asthma can do things that all the other kids do-rock climbing, canoeing, archery, swimming, arts and crafts and much more. It's July 9th-13th this year. 

Don't feel like you can't send your children because of the price of the camp. They have "camperships" for kids (think scholarships.) If you are interested, check out American Lung Association's website and see if it might be an option for you. Camp is a fun experience, and all kids should have the chance to go! Mmmmm, s'mores.......

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Oxygen concentrators

So, what is this machine? An oxygen concentrator. When you or your children have asthma and are hospitalized, they  may discharge you (or your children) with oxygen. If everything else looks good medically, and you just need oxygen for a few days, they would rather have you at home recuperating. I would rather have my kids home too!

If you only need oxygen for a day or two, they may give you an oxygen tank. But those can run out, and they always made me nervous when I had to change the tank. *shudder*

An oxygen concentrator takes room air and converts it to oxygen. Amazing! You just plug it in and hook the oxygen tubing on. Some people use an oxygen concentrator for other medical issues because they only need oxygen at night when they sleep. So they just plug the machine in at night. It's pretty handy! But fair warning, it can be a little noisy, it makes a sort of popping sound every few seconds (maybe it's all part of compressing air or something......what do I know?)

Someone I know uses an oxygen concentrator at night, but they keep it in another room so it doesn't disturb their sleep. But, if you have to get up during the night for a drink of water, you just have to watch out for the tubing on the floor-it trails across a couple of rooms!

Hopefully none of you are in the hospital now with your children, but if you are and you need to bring them home on oxygen, this is an option. The home health care company can also give you a tiny portable tank to strap on your back if you have to leave the house with your child.

Just another fun thing I've learned over the last 12 years of dealing with asthma.....but I love my life! And my favorite saying is, "things can always be worse!"